Interview: Gemma Hammond of Gastrogems Catering
It was a pleasure to catch up with Gastrogems Event Catering’s owner Gemma Hammond this week.
Gemma has catered for many events here on the Costa del Sol and her food is wonderful. She is passionate about what she does and offers her clients exactly what they want.
So Gemma, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I have been a chef since I was 15 years old. I started working in a pub in Surrey and stayed there for about 7 years, working my way up to being in charge of their busy kitchen.
The owners were lovely and sent me to college to hone my skills. But, when I left the pub, I found it difficult to get work because of my lack of experience – I had only worked in one place. So, I then went to Uni and studied catering and management. I went back to cooking as soon as I could because that’s what I love.
I toured with a number of different rock bands over the next few years doing festival catering and then I became head chef at Crystal Palace Football Club.
But, having my son, putting him in childcare and continuing to work meant neither of us were getting much quality of life. So, I decided to move to Spain.
So, what makes you different from other caterers?
I have a keen interest in nutrition and food from many different cultures. I have travelled a lot and experienced different tastes and uses of food. I can re-create pretty much anything I’ve tried and offer it to my clients.
I am also able to think “outside the box” and I am learning all the time. I have to be able to juggle, adapt and meet the most demanding needs of my clients. I am not a typically English caterer because of my travel and my experience.
Have you worked with anyone we would know?
I have been on “The F Word” (Gorden Ramsey’s Show) and worked with lots of different chefs. I have also worked with a number of rock bands and famous people. They can be quite picky! You have to be able to be imaginative and use your knowledge.
Tell us about Gastrogems!
I work with a great team of chefs. I have a degree in teaching catering and hospitality and many of them were students of mine. I can always rely on them to blend in with whatever job I am asked to do. And this adds to their experience. I do however like to be involved in the kitchen work myself. This is essential to ensure the quality of the food.
The guys seem to like working with me and we have worked together for some time and I regard this as a compliment.
Do you only offer your services to English speaking clients?
No, not at all! I speak Spanish and I plan to add German and Russian to my website very soon.
So can you cater for both small and large events?
Yes, of course! Large or small, it’s not a problem.
I have catered events for up to 5000 people. I did the Arte Sano Festival in San Pedro de Alcántara and my food proved extremely popular because it was a little different.
One guy loved my food so much, he came back the next day with a huge box and took home a selection – which was lovely. I have to say, my food looks as good as it tastes.
Why should people use Gastrogems in preference to larger, more established companies?
I am often competing with larger, well established caterers. That’s true!
But, many of them have been offering the same menus for some time. I try to make my menus new and fresh. I can also offer consistent quality, because I am personally involved. I may have help, but I control the quality of the food.
You will get my passion, not a conveyor belt of people who don’t know what the client wants. I think this shows in my food. And my clients seem to agree.
You also offer fine dining. Is this only at a venue or would you come to my home?
Of course! I can come to your home and also provide a service for special occasions. We also have a beautiful villa and we will be offering fine dining from there too. We will be producing fruit from our own trees and building a large herb garden, along with many other items. Freshness will be available every day.
We will also be providing accommodation for people to stay there and learn how to cook. For those who have special dietary needs, I will teach them how they can enjoy food whilst protecting their health.
That sounds exciting! Let us know when it is up and running. And you also offer home delivery?
Yes, I have been doing this for some time. Many people who have property on the Costa del Sol or stay in rented accommodation can take advantage of this service. They can order in advance and we will provide a selection of dishes and deliver to them. So, they don’t have to shop or think about what to eat! The big plus of course is that it is all healthy and freshly prepared – unlike pre-packed supermarket food.
And I try to use local produce whenever I can.
That’s great Gemma. Thank you for your time. We’ll be using you very soon.
Gastrogems Event Catering, Fine Dining & Home Delivery
Tel: +34 697 365 436